No Catholics need apply

Patrick Frey, the Los Angeles County prosecutor who “blawgs” under the name Patterico, had a brief notation on University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone’s article critical of the Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Carhart. Mr Frey calls it “this jaw-droppingly incompetent analysis,” noting that were Professor Stone’s article a law school examination, Mr Frey would give it an “F.”

Mr Frey is an attorney, and I am not; I’ll leave the legal analysis to him. But it did lead me to do something radical like actually read Professor Stone’s article, in which I found these repugnant paragraphs:

    What, then, explains this decision? Here is a painfully awkward observation: All five justices in the majority in Gonzales are Catholic. The four justices who are either Protestant or Jewish all voted in accord with settled precedent. It is mortifying to have to point this out. But it is too obvious, and too telling, to ignore. Ultimately, the five justices in the majority all fell back on a common argument to justify their position. There is, they say, a compelling moral reason for the result in Gonzales. Because the intact D & E seems to resemble infanticide it is “immoral” and may be prohibited even without a clear statutory exception to protect the health of the woman.

    By making this judgment, these justices have failed to respect the fundamental difference between religious belief and morality. To be sure, this can be an elusive distinction, but in a society that values the separation of church and state, it is fundamental. The moral status of a fetus is a profoundly difficult and rationally unresolvable question. As the Supreme Court has recognized for more than thirty years, when the fundamental right of a woman “to determine her life’s course” is at stake, it is not for the state — or for the justices of the Supreme Court — to resolve that question, and it is certainly not appropriate for the state or the justices to resolve it on the basis of one’s personal religious faith.

This treads on the edges, if it doesn’t step right in the middle, of the debate during the last part of 2001 and into 2002 concerning whether Catholics Need Not Apply and the apparent, even obvious, discrimination against Catholic judicial nominees by the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Tony Auth cartoon, from The Philadelphia Inquirer, (above left) makes the same point for the liberal editors of that newspaper.

    Yes, They’re Anti-Catholic
    by Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review

    The Republicans’ latest gambit in the judicial confirmation battles — accusing the Democrats of applying anti-Catholic litmus tests — has been politically productive, but also provocative. It has been criticized by such Democratic senators as Richard Durbin, by the liberal journalist Richard Cohen, and, closer to home, by my colleague Byron York, writing on NRO.

    York is the best conservative journalist on the judicial-confirmation beat. Actually, the “conservative” modifier in that sentence may be superfluous. It is no exaggeration to say that Republicans on the Hill and in the Bush administration have relied on York’s reporting to know what’s going on, not least within their own ranks. By objecting on principle to the Republicans’ tactics, York has shown an admirably independent cast of mind. In this case, however, I think the Republicans are basically right and York is wrong.

    York believes that it is unfair, and even dangerous, to charge Senate Democrats with anti-Catholicism. He points out that the Democrats are not against Bush nominee Bill Pryor because he is Catholic; they’re against him because he’s against abortion. They would also oppose an evangelical Protestant who opposed abortion as vigorously as Pryor does. They would oppose an atheist pro-lifer, for that matter. The Committee for Justice, a Republican group that has run ads accusing the Democrats of imposing a “No Catholics Need Apply” test for judges, says that Democratic senators who complain about Pryor’s “deeply held beliefs” are making a veiled reference to his religion. York thinks that’s a real stretch. Pryor has said that Roe v. Wade has led to “slaughter.” You don’t need to know his religion to infer from that comment (among others) that he has deeply held beliefs on abortion, whatever the route by which he came to them. . . .

    It is true, however, that the Democrats have adopted the next best thing. They have a viewpoint test for office that has the effect of screening out all Catholics faithful to their church’s teachings on abortion. The fact that the test screens out a lot of Protestants, too, makes the problem worse, not better. It really is true that faithful Catholics “need not apply” as far as most Democrats are concerned. A Catholic can win their support only by ceasing, on the decisive issue, to be Catholic — by breaking from his church’s teaching, as Senator Durbin has done. (It is rather disgraceful for a man who went in six years from supporting the Human Life Amendment to supporting partial-birth abortion to keep carrying on about the extremism of people whose beliefs have been less supple.)

“Whose beliefs have been less supple.” A good way of putting it, that. Senator John François Kerry was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, and an abortion supporter; he also claimed to be a devout Roman Catholic. That real Roman Catholics had, at best, doubts about Mr Kerry’s sincerity concerning his faith is demonstrated by the fact that 52% of Catholic voters cast their votes for George W Bush, a Methodist; Catholics are normally slightly Democratic in the aggregate.

Mr Ponnuru has missed one point, however. While it may be that the Senate Democrats, despite their denials, are anti-Catholic in the sense that they are anti-real-Catholic, there is another side to the coin: by claiming, as Professor Stone does, that opposition to abortion from people who happen to be Catholic is the attempt by Catholics to impose their religion on everyone, the liberals are seizing the separation of church and state argument. You don’t have to be a particularly good debater, you don’t have to be able to refute your opponents’ points, if you can hammer them with an imposition of religion argument, even if they’ve made no reference to religion.

Did the five justices in the majority vote as they did because they are Catholic? I’m not a mind-reader, so I have no way to know. But Professor Stone and Mr Auth apparently are telepathic, to know that the five justices in the majority, all Catholics, imposed their religious views rather than expressed their legal ones; the notion that their religious views could be conterminous with their legal ones without their faith directing their legal opinions seems not to have occurred to Professor Stone — or he’d rather simply have a separation of church and state argument, regardless of what the facts might be.
____________________________
Cross posted on Red State.

23 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Coffeespy » Liberalism, Barbarism, and Catholicism

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  3. I agree, actually, that this is over-the-top.

    We don’t know that the five justices who voted that women who need late-term abortions* shall have their doctors forced by legislation to choose a less safe method, voted for higher-risk abortions because they were Catholic. Many pro-lifers are Protestant: many Catholics believe that respect for human life comes first, and are therefore pro-choice. Introducing the element of religious bigotry is a troll: we need to keep the focus on the fact that the Supreme Court just ordered doctors to choose less-safe methods of late-term abortion because they think the safest method sounds icky.

    *though IDX can be the safest method as early as 13w+

  4. Get it straight: The Supreme Court didn’t order doctors to do anything, they simply did what they’re supposed to do and allowed an elected body to decide the law where the Constitution is silent. You may believe that the ban is wrong, but that doesn’t make the law unconstitutional, which is what the Court is supposed to decide. What we should actually focus on here is that we are still one vote away from having a real democracy instead being ruled by judicial fiat.
    Also, it wasn’t the pro-life and/or anti-Roe (yes, there is a difference) people who introduced religion into this debate, it was abortion-on-demand advocates like Auth and Stone.

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  6. So it’s a mere statistical coincidence that the five Catholic justices, and only those five, constitute the majority in this case – addressing the very political issue most of interest to the Vatican, a foreign power which has explicitly called on American public officials to place their religious principles over their secular oaths, when conflict occurs?

    And to suggest otherwise is just “liberal” Catholic-bashing (a phenomenon new to our century!)

    Give us a break. We know a creeping Catholic Talibanism when we see it. The new breed of politically aggressive conservative Catholicism fits every ugly stereotype ever suggested about the vaunting ego of the Church, with the innovation of snuggling up to Protestant theocratic aims, for political convenience. They are nothing short of anti-American, anti-democratic, anti-secular bigots themselves who need to leave if they don’t like pluralism. “Anyone who opposes our faith-based jurisprudence is really an anti-Catholic.” Please. The religious overthrow of the Constitution continues apace…

  7. Well, Mr Paine, if you are going to assume that, because all five justices who were in the majority on Gonzales are Catholic that they must have been taking orders from the Pope, how would you explain the fact that four of those five voted against the Church’s position on capital punishment recently?

  8. Paine my friend, what you say is quite simply a bigoted. Their oaths do not supersede who they are. It is very foolish to think a person must “separate” a part of themselves to fulfill their oath (I am standing here beside myself making my ruling!) please. Their oath is to uphold the constitution, which they did.
    Comes to this, why should we care anymore, why should we try addressing bigots who insult our faith? Wait I know, I will ask the Pope, he controls my mind! Nino is a lockstep stromtrooper for the Pope. So tired of hearing those types of comments, they are beyond insulting.
    What is silly is to believe that Kennedy is a part of “new breed of politically aggressive conservative Catholicism”. Those of us who are members of the “Catholic Taliban” have considered him out of the fold since his appointment. Glad to have him back.
    You should be ashamed, you and anyone else who gives into your lower brained fears and spew out your hatred. Just ashamed, make your arguments without the 21st century clan rhetoric.

  9. Mr Warner wrote:

    It is very foolish to think a person must “separate” a part of themselves to fulfill their oath (I am standing here beside myself making my ruling!) please. Their oath is to uphold the constitution, which they did.

    And that’s just it: our thought and logic and emotions today are the result of all of our education and experience. The notion that people can simply set aside part of what they know or have experienced, and say, “This will not affect my thinking on X subject,” is an exercise in self-delusion. If we assume that the five justices who are Catholic are serious Catholics (and Justice Scalia has written for First Things, a primarily Catholic journal of religion and politics), their Catholicism has to have an impact on their thinking. But the fact that four of the five just voted to retain capital sentences on three Texas defendants certainly indicates that they don’t get “marching orders” from the Pope.

  10. Our occupations call upon us all the time to set aside our personal “beliefs” in some area – some essential principle in the our conduct of our personal lives, to perform fairly and legally some public duty we have taken on. Do you contend that a vegan may accept work at McDonald’s, with the understanding that animal products are the principle bill of fare, making an implied agreement to abide by the fast food rules of engagement, and then start slipping soy burgers into the mix because of their higher wisdom and calling? Or that a devout hedonist may exploit his position as, say, a physician, to grope patients and leer during examinations in the service of his deeply held “belief” that we were put here to lust after one another.

    Religionizing our civic institutions, polluting our secular government with the metaphysical agendas of popes, mini-popes, quasi-Catholics, or any of the other broad range of bigoted “it’s true because I (or my religious leaders) say its true” experts on the mind of the divine – be they Christian, Muslim, pagan or otherwise – is indeed an anti-American, anti-pluralistic, hypocritical and sinister subversion of the most important principle America’s founders left us: that when we taker an oath for any office, we assure the people that we will leave our dogma chained outside the door.

    The popes have explicitly repudiated and encouraged abrogation of that principle (as have many Protestant subversives) in recent years. This is a direct assault on pluralistic, liberal, secular democracy.

    I do not contend that the five Catholic justices adhere to the details of church doctrine on all points – in fact I suspect they are more the “cafeteria conservative” version that hates abortions but loves capital punishment – but this in no way negates the obvious suspicion that we non-believers have when such a clear division occurs in acase like this, along with such twisted argument of the evasive and patronizing sort common to religious thinking.

    Try to take the criticism of this court’s lurking agenda like people who really do have the Ultimate Force on your side, and stop whining that you are being bashed. Catholic-bashing is a Protestant innovation, and symptomatic of religion’s divisive character – not a product of free democracies operating under secular Constitutions, which is all I rise to defend. The victimizer tries to play the victim as always.

  11. Religionizing our civic institutions, polluting our secular government with the metaphysical agendas of popes, mini-popes, quasi-Catholics, or any of the other broad range of bigoted “it’s true because I (or my religious leaders) say its true” experts on the mind of the divine – be they Christian, Muslim, pagan or otherwise – is indeed an anti-American, anti-pluralistic, hypocritical and sinister subversion of the most important principle America’s founders left us: that when we taker an oath for any office, we assure the people that we will leave our dogma chained outside the door.

    What a load of crap! Only an anti-religious buffoon would try to dismiss deeply held moral principles as “Dogma”. One could just as easily state that rigid support of the pro-abortion position (as held by the 4 non-Catholic Justices) is merely secular dogma, and should be equally denounced.

  12. Interesting insight, Eric. Remember to include among those “anti-religious buffoons” Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, Voltaire, Mark Twain, Robert Ingersoll, and many other brilliant and forthright defenders of democracy, common reason, and freedom of conscience who said much more forceful things than I have here, condemning the encroachment of religious agendas and reasonings, overt and covert, into official civic doings. All bigots, of course, with no real point to make but to excuse their own dogmatically secular hatred of God. Please feel free to believe that if you cannot do otherwise.

    I am interested to hear from learned members of this forum exactly what type and degree of religious contemplation is permissible in arriving at legal decisions, when we know how an official has crossed the line into dogmatism, and who determines exactly how much a dose of public religion-mixing is allowed within our Constitutional limits. Specifically what the criteria are or ought to be – not evasive generalities about bringing one’s “personal values” to the table. You’ll find the very devil in these details.

    Meanwhile, consider the following remarks excerpted from an 1892 letter by the respected Shaker theologian Elder F W Evans, in his suggestion that the agnostic Ingersoll should be the president, as a true defender of religious liberty, against those who would insert more religion into the public sphere and even the constitution itself:

    “As a Shaker (…) I am intensely interested in maintaining intact the secular character of the constitution (…) which secures liberty of conscience to all classes of people, religious or irreligious, believers or skeptics. As things are now, I feel continually in jeopardy. I am afraid of those pious, religious politicians and people, and the more pious and sincere they are, the more I am afraid of them. (…) Why am I judged by another man’s conscience? Instead of returning the colored people back to Africa, I propose to return these church and state, God in the constitution people – who are seeking the destruction of the only government on earth where liberty of person, press, speech and conscience is conserved – back to Europe where they properly belong, and not in this gloriously free American, non-religious republic, with eternal vigilance.”

    Of course Ingersoll could not then, or now, expect to rise to the presidency despite his sterling qualifications, because then, as now, the real bigots – that is the believing majority – would never permit a frank unbeliever or honest critic of religious pretentions to stand so high in the “secular” government.

    I repeat – the five Catholic justices were the complete majority in this case, as against the differently-religious minority. Did their religious affiliation play a role in the decision or not? Maybe just a coincidence, maybe my natural suspicion of the invasive character of religious thinking is “crap,” but I intend to keep a close watch on this new majority.

  13. Mr Paine wrote:

    I do not contend that the five Catholic justices adhere to the details of church doctrine on all points – in fact I suspect they are more the “cafeteria conservative” version that hates abortions but loves capital punishment – but this in no way negates the obvious suspicion that we non-believers have when such a clear division occurs in acase like this, along with such twisted argument of the evasive and patronizing sort common to religious thinking.

    Try to take the criticism of this court’s lurking agenda like people who really do have the Ultimate Force on your side, and stop whining that you are being bashed. Catholic-bashing is a Protestant innovation, and symptomatic of religion’s divisive character – not a product of free democracies operating under secular Constitutions, which is all I rise to defend. The victimizer tries to play the victim as always.

    It’s somewhat of a strained argument to pose that the five members of the majority all voted as tehy did becuause they are Catholic, and ten contend that four of the five of them voted against Church doctrine because they are “cafeteria conservatives.” You have used two contradictory votes, as far as Catholicism is concerned, to read their minds and find them to be “cafeteria,” so as to justify your belief, or your suspicion, that they must have voted as they did in Gonzales v Carhart because they are Catholic.

  14. Mr Paine asked:

    I am interested to hear from learned members of this forum exactly what type and degree of religious contemplation is permissible in arriving at legal decisions, when we know how an official has crossed the line into dogmatism, and who determines exactly how much a dose of public religion-mixing is allowed within our Constitutional limits. Specifically what the criteria are or ought to be – not evasive generalities about bringing one’s “personal values” to the table. You’ll find the very devil in these details.

    Public officials, whether jurists or otherwise, must remain within the strictures of their office (i.e.: the Justices could not take a decision not in a case before them), but in their decision-taking they are pretty much free to use anything in their experience and judgement — because that is what we all do.

    Our thoughts today are the result of all of our experiences and beliefs: we cannot (rationally) shut off a part of them, and even if we think we are doing so, we are just fooling ourselves.

    If Chief Justice Roberts, for example, decided that he was going to take a decision in case X precisely because that was the position of the Pope, it would still be within the Chief Justice’s authority to do so. He’d be better served to be able to justify it by legal arguments, but even if he wrote, explicitly, “my vote is the result of the Pope’s instructions in Evangelium Vitae,” his vote would still carry the same amount of legal authority.

    If the Congress then decided to impeach and remove him for that statement, well, it could — but it wouldn’t change the vote, nor his authority to have cast it.

    The vast majority of candidates, for every office, in our great republic, advertise things which have little or no bearing on their office: marital status, children and religion, because they know that people do take decisions on candidates based on such things.

    In the end, we vote for, or against, candidates based upon what we believe their character and abilities to be, since we cannot know what actions they will actually take or what problems they will have to address; we are looking for people who we believe have the character and ability to take good decisions, on problems that may not have even arisen. For a guage to how they will act in the future, we necessarily look to their past — and their faith is part of their past.

  15. how would you explain the fact that four of those five voted against the Church’s position on capital punishment recently?

    To a progressive, one can justify ‘mercy’ towards the merciless while treating alate-term abortion as a secular sacrament.

    One can support both abortion and capital punishment or oppose both and be morally consistent. One can be less than enthusiastic about abortion and favor capital punishment and make a logical case for position. The other alternative is rather difficult to justify.

  16. An added thought: Judaism apparently doesn’t have a moral problem with abortion. Two of the Justices who voted in the minority (Breyer and Ginsberg) are Jewish. Using Professor Stone’s logic, shouldn’t he (or Mr Paine or I) criticize the votes of those two Justices as attempting to impose their religious values?

  17. One can support both abortion and capital punishment or oppose both and be morally consistent. One can be less than enthusiastic about abortion and favor capital punishment and make a logical case for position. The other alternative is rather difficult to justify.

    Really? One could argue that abortion in the case of early-term pregnancies is not plausibly linked to suffering by any innocent party, given neurological knowledge we have come to possess, and that we may therefore pragmatically, reliably and morally distinguish between cases where abortion is a wrong done to a victim, and those where it is removal and destruction of an embryo which has no consciousness, no suffering, and thus no plausible moral claims or claims to protection as a “citizen” – certainly no more than, say, a full-grown, conscious and blameless cow led to slaughter for beef, and arguably much less.

    In contrast, one could say that, since capital punishment can be shown to rely on an intrinsically uncertain, corruptible and often corrupted legal process, where absolute certainty of guilt is never claimed, that absolute punishments of an irremediable kind – removal of limbs, lobotomies, and death sentences, for instance – are morally untenable solutions, and inherently unjust, as they are guaranteed to produce the ceremonious execution of people who turn out to be innocent, without sufficient social benefit demonstrated to compensate for what I suppose proponents of death would call “collateral damage” in the name of eye-for-eye justice.

    This is one example of how such a position may be defended without hypocrisy. There are others. You will notice at no time is an appeal to supernatural agencies or absolute convictions required. It is an argument that is accessible to reason without prior religious inclination. What would a religiously convinced person uniquely add to this debate in the form of religious arguments that is appropriate to the secular government of a diverse, free people? Nothing. To intrude religious considerations into one’s official performance in secular office is an abuse of power.

    What Dana argues for, by contrast, is voter discrimination between and against those who would stand for public office, based on their religious convictions or lack thereof, what the constitution specifically and uniquely excludes from the legal requirements of office – a religious “test” excluded for good philosophical reasons – but Dana argues now for a principle that voters should consider a candidate’s particular religious views in deciding fitness for a secular job, where those views are not relevant. The government has no ecclesiastical, metaphysical authority enumerated among its powers, and those handling the controls of government are not there to put their religious assumption into practice, either on thei own or with a majority’s blessing, but are sworn to ensure common justice, public tranquility, and personal liberty within the limits of secular reasoning and argument. But Dana advocates something else. Could Dana make my case about majoritarian religious bigotry and subversion of the core American ideals any better? Thanks so much for the case study.

    And, for the record, I don’t think a person’s breeding history is relevant to their fitness for public office either, so the “Senator Schlubb has fifteen children and forty-seven grandchildren” compaign ploy should be called what it is as well – an irrelevancy inviting a de facto fecundity test for office.

    I’m still looking for some indication of coherent American civic principles at work in the comments coming here. Not seeing them, but a lot of incoherence, bigotry and standard-issue hypocrisy. QED

  18. Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it. G. K. Chesterton Autobiography, 1937

    I do not feel any contempt for an atheist, who is often a man limited and constrained by his own logic to a very sad simplification.” G. K. Chesterton Babies and Distributism The Well and the Shallows

    I could not decide which one I liked better here, so you got both.

    Tom Paine wrote

    am interested to hear from learned members of this forum exactly what type and degree of religious contemplation is permissible in arriving at legal decisions, when we know how an official has crossed the line into dogmatism, and who determines exactly how much a dose of public religion-mixing is allowed within our Constitutional limits. Specifically what the criteria are or ought to be not evasive generalities about bringing ones personal values to the table. Youll find the very devil in these details.

    First you make it difficult to respond because you in an attempt, I assume, to be thought of as a child of the enlightenment, use words improperly. Please inform yourself regarding the meaning and proper use of the word dogma in general and in this context more importantly the use of it regarding the Catholic church specifically. The short answer to your plea is anyone is free to bring to any degree, any part of their being to the table. You or I may or may not agree in what they think or how they arrived at their decision and that in the end really does not matter. See that is why there are nine of them. Hate to make this a chalk-board civics lesson but its freedom of religion, not from religion. Our Constitution allows for and guarantees the right of individuals of any beliefs or non-beliefs to hold office. It is establishment of, not exclusion of, religion from government or our lives. It was a Catholic who first refused to severe and worship the head of government and of religion in the same man. They cut off his head for his effort. He was a real child of the enlightenment. You apparently know of him, he also in some cirles has Saint in front of his name, not Sir. His sacrifice invalidates your arguement, it does not support it. If they have over stepped their grounds then are remedies for their removal. Bitching and spewing bigoted hatred works too I guess.

    The argument you make is one of philosophy and approach. It is a view point. Despite your crudeness and hatred parts of what you say can be found in certain speeches, pamphlets, letters, or articles that men you speak of as gods and that most of us call fondly founders. These comments are not laws. They may provide context, but it is not the same.

    Mr Paine stated

    Of course Ingersoll could not then, or now, expect to rise to the presidency despite his sterling qualifications, because then, as now, the real bigots – that is the believing majority would never permit a frank unbeliever or honest critic of religious pretentions to stand so high in the secular government.

    I repeat – the five Catholic justices were the complete majority in this case, as against the differently-religious minority. Did their religious affiliation play a role in the decision or not? Maybe just a coincidence, maybe my natural suspicion of the invasive character of religious thinking is crap, but I intend to keep a close watch on this new majority

    .

    Because your religion, atheism, is not popular enough to find a seat at the table in our country is well…irrelevant. It would serve you better to use the tyranny of the majority argument, not a separation. Shakers made great furniture, wonderful music, not so good at making baby Shakers. They were a cult. Oh, keep your gaze fixed on what you want, hey it is a free country, dont want the thought police telling you cant be full of crap.

    Tom Paine said

    You will notice at no time is an appeal to supernatural agencies or absolute convictions required

    You believe!

    Tom Paine wrote

    What Dana argues for, by contrast, is voter discrimination between and against those who would stand for public office, based on their religious convictions or lack thereof, what the constitution specifically and uniquely excludes from the legal requirements of office – a religious test excluded for good philosophical reasons (Sir Thomas Moore)- but Dana argues now for a principle that voters should consider a candidate’s particular religious views in deciding fitness for a secular job, where those views are not relevant.

    Where does he say that? Is it should or they could?

  19. For the record I did not call TJ, the french dude or the rest of those guys you mention bigots. I called you a bigot, the “Catholic Taliban” comment was just not ok.

  20. “May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us in all our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.” —George Washington

    Hey Tom, wanted to wish you a happy “National Day Of Prayer” day tomorrow. Government sactioned and all…

  21. I, in the interest of time, need to dismiss the observation of pgwarner that I use the term “dogma” incorrectly, as pgwarner uses the word “religion” in reference to atheism, thereby demonstrating a complete disregard for the ordinary, useful meanings of words. The bias in this is apparent. I stand by my use of dogma, entirely consistent with common senses of that term.

    Now to your most blatant logical failure, and obliviousness to the entire thrust of my argument. Nothing I have argued requires an assumption of atheism – and in fact the great promoters of the enlightenment principle of secular government I rise to assert were, none of them, atheists. I suggest to pgwarner, in grateful reciprocation of the unsolicited advice, that he or she obtain a good dictionary, a few books showing the full religious sentiments and political reflections of Washington (whom he cheerfully cheery-picks) and the other American characters I mentioned previously (all spewers of hatred by your lights, I assure you), and finally perhaps taking a course in logic and reading comprehension, so you may better understand and address the substance of arguments, directly answer plain questions, and eschew ad hominem dismissals and wise-acre references to the National Day of Prayer, thereafter subtituting candid, complete argument, or at least remembering to include it after the outrage.

    I support the freedom to believe, I love and admire my religious friends, including the Catholic ones, and wish all people to feel equal partners in the American enterprise, regardless of their personal religious views. I wish for those who assume public office to respect this idea by taking every care to administer secular government in secular terms, keeping their metaphysical speculations in the personal realm where they belong. Those of you who feebly defend an undeserved official privilege for certain kinds of monotheists in our government doings, or who defend any tendency for officeholders to drift into religious considerations when doing the public business, are the only true bigots in sight, as I have said, and the real haters of America.

    Enjoy your prayers. I plan to read history instead. A more fruitful pursuit, in my experience. Just a personal choice.

  22. Paine,
    My point is that you are a bigot. The argument then MUST be to you. I must argue against you the person. I am at a loss as to how to construct a discussion concerning that you are a bad boy without me telling you just that.

    I have nothing against those who you claim support your view, I never said that. Hiding behind their skirts I guess does help.

    If you wanted a frank, open and civil discussion I would argue that phrases like these do not help…

    Catholic Talibanism

    anti-American, anti-democratic, anti-secular bigots

    polluting our secular government with the metaphysical agendas of popes, mini-popes, quasi-Catholics

    is indeed an anti-American, anti-pluralistic, hypocritical and sinister

    The reference to your Catholic friends smacks of……..some of my best fiends are blacks from days gone by.

    You are obviously well read. You can turn a phase, albeit in an affected manner. Its a pity that you started this by slapping people in the face.

    Finally, yes atheism is a religion. Yes it is clear you are one. Yes it is central to your argument. If I have a desire to call anyone else an atheist I will do it directly. I was telling you by virtue of what you were saying, and more importantly in the bigoted way you were saying it, that you can make no claim of underlying support from Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, Voltaire, Mark Twain, Robert Ingersoll or anyone else.

    Wishing you well.

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